Folio is a design research concept for Intel that physically adapts to the information needs of its user. Starting at about the size of a rectangular wallet, this computer system unfolds three times to become the size of a medium size notepad, a paper back book, and finally a high-resolution 8.5" x 14" display.

The foldable computer was developed for the growing group of professionals who do most of their work in the field or on the move and need a great deal of information with them. Specifically, Folio addresses the problem of interacting with both simple and complex data all with the same mobile computer system.

Currently, there are a variety of "one size fits all" products on the market, like notebook PC's, sub-notebook PC's, and now products like the Sharp Zaurus or the HP Omni-pro. These last two products offer not only PDA functionality but features like internet access and e-mail correspondence in the palm of your hand. Although useful, all of the products mentioned above are simply miniaturizations of larger products and become difficult to use when moving around and interacting with complex information like maps, large blueprints, schematics, spreadsheets, and websites.

Our solution is a device that can be "re-formed" to fit the user's task. In its smallest configuration the foldable computer fits in a shirt or pants pocket. It provides similar functionality to that of other small PDAs like the 3Com PalmPilot. Unfolding the Foldable Computer once doubles its size, providing the ability to take notes and respond to email. Unfolding the computer a second time transforms it into a book form factor, suitable for web browsing and other electronic book documents. Completely unfolded, the display screen is 8.5" x 14", and suited for large, complex information. Moreover, at this size, the computer can be attached to a keyboard, powered from a wall outlet, and used like a traditional desktop computer.

The foldable display addresses the growing need of professionals who do a majority of their work in the field, as opposed to an office, and need to take their work with them. Our solution is a device that can "re-form" itself depending on the task at hand.

The Foldable Computer takes advantage of newly emerging manufacturing technologies. These include advances in flexible polymer LCD displays and system-on-panel component assembly. In its smallest form, the Foldable Computer system is basically eight, VGA resolution, rigid polymer LCD panels, connected and stacked on top of one another. Protecting these panels is a leather wrap. Unsnapping and folding back this wrap turns the computer on. As the LCD panels are unfolded, the computer increases its display size, opening all the way up to a usable 8.5" x 14" surface area at a 1280 x 1920 pixel resolution. The display surface is scratch-proof and electrically active only when engaged by the user's pen or finger touch.

Flexible interconnects, sandwiched between piezo-electric motors allow the folding and rigidization of the panels as the computer is unfolded. The computer recognizes when panels are opened past 165 degrees and activates the piezo-electric motors to snap the panels into a rigid position. This alleviates the user from having to hold the computer taught while in use. With each fold, small embedded magnets in the panels create an audible click, notifying the user that the panels will hold in place.

Providing the computing power of the foldable computer are metallic modules embedded in the back of each LCD panel. Each module contains a single computer function such as central processing, solid state memory, digital cellular communications, speech recognition, global positioning, and power. A photo-voltaic ink for collecting solar and artificial light is coated on the back of each module to recharge the batteries.